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February 19, 2010

Showing Repentance? 50 Prisoners Released from Evin Wednesday Night

Over the course of the past eight months, thousands of Iranians have been placed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison; this round-up includes protesters of the fraudulent June elections, members of the media, and other political prisoners. Many of these recent detainees have been sentenced to unusually long prison sentencing, and others have even been condemned to death.   This is why it’s shocking that Radio Zamaneh reports (via payvand.com) that 50 Iranian political prisoners were released from Evin’s macabre confines on Wednesday night, albeit in most cases through temporary releases tacked with high bail amounts.

Shahabeddin Tabatabai, Islamic Iran Participation Front member and head of reformist youth in support of Mousavi and Khatami, was one of the high profile detainees which was temporarily released last night, according to Neday-e Sabz-e Azadi website.
Tabatabai, who has been sentenced to five years in prison, was released by the authorities for a period of five days on an 800-million-touman ($800,000) bail.
Member of Human Rights Reporters, Parisa Kakai, and student activist, Maziar Samii were also among the detainees released last night.

One must ponder- why the sudden unprecedented purge of prisoners? This could possibly stem from The Human Right Council’s Universal Periodic Review on Monday, in which Iran’s abysmal human rights record was put to light and Iran was chastised for their gross violation of basic human rights.
Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, Secretary General Mohammad Larijani, asserted on Monday that any allegations of human rights abuses were prompted by western critics seeking to exploit Iran’s human rights record for their own political means, rejecting all evidence that highlights Iran’s notorious human rights record. Iranian officials were uncooperative and rejected any sort of investigation surrounding Iran’s human rights record, and opposed many suggestions brought forth by the Human Rights Council.
However, Iran is expected to seek membership in the Human Rights Council in the upcoming May Council elections; thus, this could be one possible reason for the sudden release of prisoners on Wednesday night. The purge could also be an attempt to appease protesters, especially following the crackdown on the February 11th protests, and the chokehold Iran is imposing within its borders.  Or, perhaps Tehran really has taken to heart the suggestions brought forth by the council Monday, and is on the path to legitimately better their human rights record. The latter is far less plausible, and Iran feigning an improvement in its approach to basic human rights within its borders would be unsurprising, unlike the sudden release of prisoners.

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